“The first great leap we’ve seen in pneumatics for years,” may seem too good a proclamation to be true, but those are the words of one of the beta customers that tried out IntelliSense, a new predictive intelligence system for pneumatics. Just introduced in September by Bimba Manufacturing Co., University Park, Ill., the smart technology platform has been years in the making, and is a potentially huge blow in the ongoing skirmish between pneumatics and electrics.
The IntelliSense system is comprised of a pneumatic cylinder, sensors attached to the cylinder, and a Sensor Interface Module (SIM), a monitoring device that connects to the sensors. The system delivers data to the operator that can be used to determine when the cylinder will fail. Data includes cylinder cycle time, pressure to one hundredth of psi and temperature to one hundredth of a degree. Predictive intelligence built in to the package will alert the user when the cylinder is underperforming, so replacement operations can be scheduled to coincide with upcoming downtime periods.
Jeremy King, Product Marketing Manager, Bimba, explained that the concept was developed internally at the company, and that the technology was sorely needed to overcome competition from electrics.
“One of the things that pneumatics doesn’t offer is the diagnostic aspect,” King said. “Pneumatics had never had anything like that. We asked ourselves, how can we use sensors to monitor pneumatic cylinders?”
IntelliSense, which the company describes as “machine-to-machine technology,” isn’t geared toward a particular industry. The goal is to allow users in a wide range of industries to move from emergency repair to proactive maintenance—thereby optimizing production as a whole. King said that it’s particularly suited for critical applications that can’t fail, such as in a bottling plant, or anywhere that is hard to access. The price tag, which is estimated to be $500 or less, can easily be recouped by avoiding a single incident of downtime or a batch of scrap product caused by a cylinder failure.
King, who came to Bimba from Honeywell, described the sensors as “fantastically small” and well-designed. He indicated that the technology can certainly evolve to other pneumatic components.
“We definitely see this expanding into other areas— the core technology, hardware-wise, can work,” he said. “The key will be developing the failure profiles for those other components.”
King stressed that this would bring new life to pneumatics in the design cycle.
“Now this brings pneumatics back into the conversation.”
Bimba Manufacturing Co.
Filed Under: Cylinders & Actuators, Fluid Power World Magazine Articles, News